Movie Review: The Great Yokai War (2005, Japan)

Movie buffs tired of seeing the same old rehashes or sequels really should give a look at what other countries are doing. Sure, you’ll have to deal with subtitles and a lot of little cultural differences, but you don’t have to be Joseph Campbell to realize that certain stories are universal. Priests are always going to be going into battle with the devil over the souls of the departed, romance is romance no matter what language the lovers speak, and young people are always going to go through rites of passage into adulthood.

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Indiana Jones and the “Top Men”

There’s a scene at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that’s always bugged me a little. No, not the one where the crate containing the Ark is being hidden away in that huge warehouse (along with all the other crates containing things the Government wants to keep from us – the cancer cures, evidence of alien life, super-efficient energy technology, etc.), but the one just before that where Indiana slams the government agents at whose bequest he recovered the Ark:

Indiana: Fools. Bureaucratic fools!
Marion: What’d they say?
Indiana: They don’t know what they’ve got there.

Dr. Jones, the dedicated archaeologist that he is, wants the Ark to be studied and analyzed so that all its secrets can be learned. He suspects, with good reason, that the inept bureaucrats in the government will either botch the study or worse, bury it again.

Maj. Eaton: We have top men working on it right now.
Indiana: Who?
Maj. Eaton: Top… men.

But I really think that the government really does know what it’s doing, and hiding the Ark away like they did is most likely the best option.

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Book Review: The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures
by William DeBuys
Little, Brown and Company

It starts right in the middle of the “action” DeBuys is on a boat in the middle of the Nakai Reservoir, the lake formed by the construction of the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project (NT2) in central Laos. The project is the largest hydroelectric power plant in the country, producing so much electricity that there’s a surplus available for export to Thailand. The reservoir is so new that trees in the flooded area are still standing, an eerie reminder of what was there.

The reservoir itself borders the Nakai–Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area. A percentage of revenue from the dam is supposed to be directed to conservation efforts there. And that area is where DeBuys is headed – to track down the elusive saola.

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The Trouble with Google Maps

I’m pretty good at reading maps. I’ve never needed a GPS (well, except for that one time I took a rental car to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and even then I missed a turn and got lost). These days, when I’m traveling, I like to go online and print out a map of my route and the local area where I will be.

But often it’s not easy to do. It’s not that the online maps use color shadings that are worse than useless on a printout. It’s a matter of orientation and scale.
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